Rock N Roll DC Half Marathon Recap – 03/18/15

Wow…what an event. I have very mixed emotions about this race.   First off, the positives. It was Sam’s very first half marathon and I got the pleasure of training with her. Crystal also decided to join us for the race. So, running a race with my 2 best running buddies was T-totally AWESOME. Also, Gabby wanted to run the 5k so Steven signed up to run it with her. And Erika and Ky decided to join us as well. Now, onto the negatives. It rained the entire time. To be fair, I didn’t struggle with the rain as much during the race, but the 2 hours after the race were completely miserable due to the weather conditions. We were all freezing and trembling and just wanted to get out of our wet running clothes. The full race recap is below (pardon the bad quality pictures).

After running the 8k in Richmond, Sam decided she was “all-in”. She had the itch and was ready to sign up for a half marathon. After talking to Crystal, she decided Rock N Roll DC would be the one. To be 100% honest, I was a little hesitant at first and almost wanted to talk her out of it. I knew that the Shamrock Half marathon in Virginia Beach was on my “must-do” list and it was the weekend after Rock N Roll. After thinking it over for a bit, I decided the solution was just to sign up for both and to convince Sam to also sign up for Shamrock. Win/Win 🙂

FRIDAY – Sam, Erika, and I wanted to get to the expo early and decided to meet Crystal at the convention center at 10:00 when it opened. We drove up to the metro and made sure to pre-purchase metro cards for everyone in our group for the next day to ensure a smooth and easy race morning. After that, we jumped on the metro and headed for the convention center. After figuring out the metro station was actually RIGHT at the convention center (I can neither confirm nor deny that we exited the station and went walking down the street to look for the convention center), we found our way in and immediately jumped in line. After looking around at the surrounding people, I started having doubts that we were in the right line. Lo and behold, we were waiting in line for a teacher’s convention – oops!! In my defense, all of the expos I have attended in the past have only hosted one event so we had just assumed we were in the right line. 5 minutes later, we had made our way to the correct hall!

EXPO – We quickly picked up our bibs and shirts, along with bibs & shirts for Steven, Gabby, and Ky and made our way into the vendor area. The Brooks area was quite large and they had a lot of really cool RNR DC gear. I find it to be on the pricey side, so I decided to pass. We met up with Crystal briefly and saw all the cool stuff she had purchased. She had to head back to work so we parted ways and continued on. We made our way into the Brooks “fun” area. We played a game where we had to run on a mat to make our designated horse climb a mountain and we waited in line for our gait analysis to find out which Brooks shoe would be recommend for each of us. We had to run on a treadmill for 10-20 seconds while they recorded our feet and then they used their software to analyze our run. For participating in that, we all received a nice Brooks insulated bag. SCORE!! After finishing in the Brooks area, we proceeded to the rest of the expo, where all the “usual” vendors are. I picked up a rain jacket from Sports Authority and a few new fuels that I sampled and really liked. After looking around for a while and making a few more purchases, we headed back to the Brooks area so Sam could purchase the RNR DC running jacket. It is so cute!! Her and Crystal both bought one! I bought Gabby the Rock N Roll 5k decal for her bedroom door. We ended up spending almost 4 hours at the expo!! It really didn’t seem like we were there that long.

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After the expo, we had lunch across the street at subway and then headed back home. I made it just in time to meet Gabby at swim practice. After swim, I met Sam and Erika at Noodles to do a little carb loading, then ran to Walmart to pick up my breakfast, and headed home to make sure all my stuff was ready for the early morning. I took a quick shower and went to bed pretty easily.

RACE DAY – My alarm went off at 3:50. I always have that moment of “Why am I doing this” when the alarm goes off, but I got up relatively easily and started getting ready. I woke Gabby up a little after 4 and she was a trooper. I asked her again if she wanted to skip the race and stay home but she didn’t want to. Crystal was at my house by 4:15 and Ky arrived shortly after. I packed a bag with my yogurt, banana, and water and we were ready to head out. Sam and Erika walked over from Sam’s house and by 4:35 we were on our way to the metro center. I had brought trash bags for us to wear until the start of the race. Ky had also brought trash bags, but his were longer so I opted to wear one of his 🙂 With our fashionable trash bags on, we headed to catch the metro which was surprisingly not busy. Maybe because it is the first stop on the green line?!?

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I ate my yogurt while on the metro. When we had to transfer metro lines at L’enfant Plaza, we found the crowds. Steven and Gabby had to catch a different train to head to the 5k start so I wished them luck and we parted ways. We were at our stop by 6:30, which gave us an hour to kill before the start of the race. After a few pictures, standing in line for the port-a-potties, and checking our bags, it was almost time for the race to start.

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Knowing that we were in the 21st corral, we knew we still had plenty of time to hit the port-a-pots one more time. After that we ditched our trash bags, jumped in our corral, ate our gu’s and waited another 10 minutes or so for our start.

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I received a couple of pictures from Steven of him and Gabby at the start.

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Around 8:00, it was our turn and we were off.

Mile 1 – 4.5 – At the beginning of the race, the rain was pretty light. I had forgotten my gloves, so my hands were cold, but other than that I felt pretty good. We ran past the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial and across a bridge (I think it was the Arlington Memorial Bridge) and back. It was foggy so the views weren’t as spectacular as I know they are, but I was still trying to take it all in. There was a band set up at the beginning of the bridge so we got to hear it as we started across the bridge and again as we came back across. We also ran past a group of young cheerleaders at the turnaround point of the bridge and they were so cute. I can’t believe they stood out in the rain cheering for us…so sweet! Erika and Ky have a faster pace, so they went ahead of us, while Crystal, Sam, and I tried to settle into a good even pace. Sam and I kept increasing our pace, but Crystal was there to warn us when our pace would increase too much. The plan was to keep a steady pace and not to let Sam burn out.

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Mile 4.5 – 9 – We walked at mile 4.5 so that we could all fuel. I used the wafers that I had bought at the expo and they were delicious!! After fueling, we found our pace again and continued running, knowing that we were approaching the monster hill at mile 6. I had been warned but hearing about it and seeing it are two different things!!! Wow, is all I can say. This is also where the “blue mile” begins. There were pictures of fallen soldiers, along with American Flags lining the street. It’s hard to put my emotions and thoughts into words. It’s one of those things you just have to experience. There was also a TON of encouragement on the hill and I really appreciated it. We ran about 1/3 of the hill and had to walk the rest. As soon as we reached the top of the hill, we began running again. I could definitely feel that the hill took a lot out of me. I had to convince my legs to keep running more than once over the next couple of miles. We moved on to neighborhoods, which were fun because the owners of some of the row houses were out blasting music and just providing fun and laughs on the course. We also had to climb a couple of significant hills and I was VERY proud of us for not stopping to walk on those hills.

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Miles 9-12 – We walked again at mile 9 so we could fuel. I had my last Gu and some sips of water and Crystal re-filled her water bottle. At this point in the race, we were on one side of the road that was closed to vehicles, but the other side was open and I could feel the wind coming off the vehicles that passed us. The rain had picked up and I could feel my wet jacket on my arms and I started to become cold again.   I can’t recall much else about this portion of the race. I do remember passing a band playing Mustang Sally and having to run a few more rolling hills.

Miles 12-13.1 – A little after mile 12, Sam decided she wanted to really pick it up and race to the finish. I wasn’t sure if I could keep that pace up for the remaining duration, but I knew I really wanted to. I remember telling her, we still have a half mile to go at one point, but we kept on running as fast as we could. We finally saw the big blow-up Brooks man and knew we were almost done. I thought he was marking the finish line at first but didn’t see the timing mats, so I knew we still had a bit to go. I spotted Gabby and Steven and gave her a high 5 and we sprinted to the finish!! Woot Woot!! We did it! I was so happy for Sam!

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Post Race – We collected our medals, water, chocolate milk, and snacks. We had our finisher pictures taken together!

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We got separated from Crystal right at the end and couldn’t find her.  She had gone to pick up her bag.  We saw Ky and Erika and met up with them and then found Steven and Gabby. This part of the day was ABSOLUTELY MISERABLE. We were all trembling from the cold. We headed over to our bag pick-up and port-a-pot line. Apparently there was a mix-up with a couple of the trucks at the end of the alphabet because Crystal was there for a while trying to get her bag back. We were wet, cold, and miserable and just wanted to get out of the rain. Poor Gabby and Steven had been waiting for us for about 2 hours in the weather. Steven had tried to convince her to go back to the van but she wanted to see me finish. She never complained once.  Here is a picture of her at the finish of the 5k:

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We headed to the metro center, which was about a 10 minute walk, only to see that the line to get into the metro station was ridiculously long. We contemplated trying to walk to the next metro stop but we were all too cold to even try to deal with retrieving our phones and finding the next stop. We waited in the line for about another 30 minutes or so. My perception of time may be off because with the miserable conditions, it felt like 5 hours!! We finally made it to the station and were on the bus to head back to Branch Avenue. I started feeling slightly better on the metro (better enough to snap a few pictures), but we were all still in wet clothes.

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When we got back to Branch Avenue, we were able to change into our dry clothes (with a little bit of attitude from the metro worker). Steven had started the van and had it nice and warm for us.

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We were all hungry and decided to stop at Chili’s on the way home. My food was delicious (it always is after a race). With full bellies and dry clothes, we were on our way home. I don’t think I have never been so happy to be home in my life.

Sam and my official time for the race was 2:27:25. Here are my splits according to my GARMIN:

Mile 1 – 10:53

Mile 2 – 10:49

Mile 3 – 11:16

Mile 4 – 11:09

Mile 5 – 11:56

Mile 6 – 11:28

Mile 7 – 12:11

Mile 8 – 11:08

Mile 9 – 10:46

Mile 10 – 11:19

Mile 11 – 10:26

Mile 12 – 10:53

Mile 13 – 10:02

Mile .31 – 3:10

Overall, I have mixed emotions about this race. I think all of the negatives are weather related though. I was a little disappointed in the amount of bands on the course for it being a “Rock N Roll” race, but I do understand that it may have been due to the weather. There were still some spectators out and I am very thankful because I know they were miserable, but I imagine there are many more spectators on a nice day. I would definitely like to give this race another try and hope for some better weather 🙂

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